popularizing science

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    • Jun 21, 2013

    There's another reason I think popularizing science is important, why I try to do it. It's a foreboding I have of an America in my children's generation, or my grandchildren's generation, when all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when we're a service and information-processing economy; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest even grasps the issues; when the people (by "the people" I mean the broad population in a democracy) have lost the ability to set their own agendas, or even to knowledgeably question those who do set the agendas; when there is no practice in questioning those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and religiously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in steep decline, unable to distinguish between what's true and what feels good, we slide, almost without noticing, into superstition and darkness.

    We have a civilization based on science and technology, and we've cleverly arranged things so that almost nobody understands science and technology. That is as clear a prescription for disaster as you can imagine. While we might get away with this combustible mixture of ignorance and power for a while, sooner or later it's going to blow up in our faces, The powers of modern technology are so formidable that it's insufficient just to say, "Well, those in charge, I'm sure, are doing a good job." This is a democracy, and for us to make sure that the powers of science and technology are used properly and prudently, we ourselves must understand science and technology. We must be involved in the decision-making process.

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